Child support review/modification


I have a divorce court order that is more than three years old. The amount that we agreed upon for child support is much less than of what I would pay if we used the guidelines. We agreed to a “lower” child support payment for a variety of legitimate reasons that are in effect still today. My ex wife has voluntarily resigned from her position to pursue a Ph.D and wants to take me to court to get the current guideline amount using a variety of reason, one being the 3 year 15% thing.

My question is…I read a lot about needing to prove a change in circumstance and I do feel like I have a good case that her changes are voluntary and this is frivolous. However, I also have read that if a court order is greater than 3 years old and difference of child support under the guidelines and what is currently being paid is greater than 15%, then Child Support can be reviewed automatically. But I also read on this site about “Thomas V Thomas” where the original amount of child support wasn’t calculated on the guidelines so a change in circumstance based upon the what the payment should be via the guidelines didn’t apply.

Bottom line… we spent lots of money, hours and emotional time coming to an agreement that did not follow the guidelines. Can she take me to court based solely on the 3 years and 15% and nothing else?


Yes, the mother can file a motion to have child support modified based on the three years and 15% change assuming the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines apply to your case.

As you know, there must be a substantial change in circumstances affecting the welfare of a chill to have a child support order modified. The North Carolina Child Support Guidelines state that a substantial change in circumstances is presumed when a child support order is at least three years old and there is a difference of at least 15% between the current monthly child support payment (not what the Guideline amount would have been) and what the monthly child support payment could be if the Guidelines are applied to the parents’ then-current incomes.

Note that the Guidelines do not apply when the combined gross income of the parents is $300,000/year or more ($25,000/month or more).

I get what you are saying. I just find this 15% clause to be terribly misused in this case. The ONLY change in circumstance is that the 15% clause exists.

Just seems crazy to me that two people can spend so much time working out an agreement, everyone signs off, judge says its in the best interest of the children and so on. Then just because this clause exists she will get an increased amount, without there being any other changes that have occurred (other than her voluntarily quitting her job).Additionally, I will still be obligated to continue to uphold those other parts of the agreement as to why we determined the CS amount.

So if I am understanding correctly, ex wife quits job, ex wife files for more money, ex wife gets more money, ex husband still has to do all the things he agreed to before, even though he now has to pay more.

Just doesn’t seem right.

The Child Support Guidelines presume a substantial change of circumstances when an order is at least three years-old and there is a difference of at least 15% between what the currently monthly payment is and what the new payment would be using the parents’ current gross incomes. That is enough to be able to file a motion to modify child support.

If your ex-wife quit her job for a bad faith reason (for example, she quit solely to collect more child support and has no legitimate reason), then a judge could impute her former income to her.